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Event Recap: Networking for Early Career Professionals in Tech

Key Takeaways from the Mass Tech Leadership Council’s Event ‘Stories From Stellar Networkers’ at Venture Café Cambridge

Last week’s Tech Runs Boston event at Venture Café Cambridge, featured a panel of experts who shared their insights on the power of networking for early career professionals in the tech industry. Our esteemed panelists included Marina Giliver, Director of Business Capabilities and Payments at Capital One; Nathan Therrien from TechStars and Founder of Business Insurance and Benefit Services of MA; and Peter Swan, Technical Recruiter at Klaviyo. The session was skillfully moderated by Tony Martignetti, Chief Inspiration Officer at Inspired Purpose Partners. Their collective insights are summarized and reflected in the key takeaways below.

The Importance of Networking for Career Progression

Networking is not just a supplemental activity; it’s a critical component of career progression and personal growth. Our panelists emphasized how leveraging connections from previous roles and educational backgrounds can open new doors, even in challenging economic times. Networking can create opportunities where none seemed to exist, as illustrated by the personal stories shared.

Overcoming Networking Challenges

According to our recent LinkedIn poll, the biggest challenges in networking are finding common ground for discussion (44%), initiating conversations (22%), and following up effectively (22%). Addressing these challenges, our panelists highlighted the importance of effective communication and building a genuine connection by focusing on others’ interests and finding commonalities.

Building and Maintaining Professional Relationships

Maintaining professional relationships requires ongoing effort and strategic thinking. Panelist Marina Giliver shared the crucial insight that personal branding and exposure are as significant as individual performance. They advised that professionals should understand their unique value propositions and communicate them clearly within 30 seconds of meeting someone new.

Practical Networking Techniques

Networking isn’t just about external events; it’s also essential within your workplace. Speakers recommended setting up meet-and-greet sessions with colleagues to learn from their career journeys and gain insights. Nathan Therrien also stressed the value of specialized industry events and finding niches that align with your career interests.

The Role of Mindset and Perseverance

Perseverance and the right mindset are fundamental to successful networking. Peter Swan recounted his journey of moving to a new city and establishing connections despite initial setbacks. The story underscores the importance of resilience and the willingness to step out of comfort zones to build a robust professional network.

Poll Insights: Networking Fears and Solutions

Our LinkedIn poll revealed that the most significant fear we face around networking is finding common ground for discussion. Addressing this, the panelists shared strategies such as asking open-ended questions, being genuinely curious about others’ work, and following up with relevant articles or insights to keep the conversation going.

Networking Mistakes to Avoid

The panel also discussed common networking mistakes. A critical error is approaching networking with a transactional mindset—seeking immediate benefits rather than focusing on building genuine relationships. Instead, networking should be approached as a long-term investment in your professional future.

Leveraging Networking Opportunities in Tech

The tech industry offers numerous opportunities for networking, from events at MTLC, to specialized meetups focused on niches like AI, biotech, or software development. Nathan Therrien advised early career professionals to seek out these events and actively participate to expand their networks.

The Power of Personal Branding

Personal branding was a recurrent theme. Marina emphasized that your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s essential to convey your strengths and value proposition clearly and consistently, whether in person or online.

Practical Tips for Effective Networking

To make the most of networking opportunities, the panelists recommended:

  • Prepare a 30-Second Elevator Pitch: Clearly articulate who you are and what you bring to the table.
  • Be Curious and Ask Questions: Focus on understanding others’ experiences and interests.
  • Follow Up: After meeting someone, send a follow-up email with relevant information or simply to thank them for their time.
  • Be Persistent but Patient: Building a network takes time and consistent effort.

Conclusion

The event highlighted the multifaceted nature of networking and its pivotal role in career development. By understanding the importance of personal branding, leveraging networking opportunities, and avoiding common pitfalls, early career professionals can significantly enhance their career trajectories. The insights shared by the panelists provided a roadmap for effective networking, emphasizing that it’s not just about who you know, but also about how you connect and maintain those relationships over time.

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to making this event a success. Stay tuned for more events and opportunities to expand your professional network and elevate your career in tech.


These takeaways from the Mass Tech Leadership Council’s event are sure to inspire and guide early career professionals in their networking journey. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to enhance your networking skills, the advice and strategies shared by our panelists are invaluable. See you at the next event!

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